DECENTRALISATION IS NOT ONLY about provincial governments, it is about giving power back to the villages.
If we can break the hold of the centralised bureaucratic machinery, as in the case of the provincial administrator, decentralisation will help provincial and local level governments move towards making decisions that are in reference to PNG’s Organic Laws on Provincial and Local Governments.
In law, the administrative powers focused on the provincial administrator do not really restrict the specified powers of provincial and local governments.
The powers given to the provincial administrator do not restrict the powers of provincial and Local Level government by the provisions of Organic Law.
The law gives provincial governments and LLGs powers and, according to law, they should act accordingly.
These powers are wide: financial powers, autonomy in providing certain basic services like health and infrastructure, and the ability to undertake certain business ventures that contribute to the national and provincial purse.
In other words, the provincial administrator could delegate certain powers to provincial governments within the provisions of the Organic Law.
This might improve cooperation between the national, provincial and local level governments.
The Organic Laws on Provincial and Local Governments also enable local and provincial governments to make decisions beneficial for the people economically, socially, provincially and nationally.
However, in practice, the ability to plan and implement decentralised activity-requires skills in project design and implementation, which are lacking at provincial and local level. In many provinces, local governments operate poorly even where district administrations score well on their performance.
There is a lack of political strategy to mobilise resources for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure for projects in agricultural development and internal trade.
Because provincial administrators have more influence, they decide where to spend and what the priorities are for spending.
This is a huge hindrance to provincial governments and LLGs because of the lack of merit in the bureaucratic machinery to implement their objectives.
Provincial governments are part of a system, which is a total disaster for this country. It is very destructive of the true philosophy of decentralisation and a grassroots system of government.
Policies of devolution in PNG have ideological, political and bureaucratic dimensions which intersect in a range of complex ways.
Provincial and local governments lack the necessary skills and political and administrative leadership are unstable due to cultural differences, and therefore service delivery is derailed.
The ideological dimensions relate to issues of who has the right to participate in decision-making, at what level and the extent to which people have the confidence and relevant expertise to make decisions which affect lives.
The political dimensions revolve around issues of power concentrated in the apparatus of the provincial administrator, of how power is expressed through policies and is exercised by people occupying particular positions.
The bureaucratic dimensions are linked to issues of resources and resource allocation; of the extent to which administrative arrangements are responsive and sensitive to the wishes of the people; and of how these arrangements permit or inhibit the initiation, implementation, and evaluation of particular development initiatives.